updated 01:50 pm EDT, Tue August 2, 2011
Hulu mulls pricier but ad-free streaming
Hulu has given multiple clues to viewers that it's considering an ad-free version of its service. In what's likely an official public line, the company has said it's "looking into the option" of a more expensive tier without the ads of the free or $8 Hulu Plus levels. The seriousness and possible pricing haven't been given out.
Openly discussing possible plans is an unusual step and hints the company is eager to widen its reach to catch marginal customers. A vocal contingent of viewers, though not necessarily large, objects to paying a subscription for online video that still has ads. Netflix has older content than Hulu for the same $8 per month but goes without ads and has consequently had an easier time getting both to these customers as well as into iOS and other platforms where Flash is unsupported or impractical.
A higher price could be problematic given Hulu's existing problems. Territorial defense from TV studios trying to protect legacy deals with providers has often led to the available content often varying wildly for free users and Hulu Plus owners very occasionally being locked out of free content.
The possibility is being raised just as Hulu's very strategy might change. After getting a sudden offer, it has been shopping itself around to major technology companies, including Apple. Only a few may be serious, but many of them have different price models that would either subsume Hulu entirely or stand at odds with what its new buyer was already running. [via Zatz Not Funny]